The only good thing that I've discovered about Inherent Vice not being released in Australia until February is that it gives me plenty of time to review Paul Thomas Anderson's other films. Don't ask me why I chose to review this first, but go with it anyway. Punch-Drunk-Love follows the story of Barry Egan (Adam Sandler), a lonely business man who's incredibly troubled. One day, Barry is set up with Lena Leonard (Emily Watson), a Brit who finds Barry attractive. At the same time as this, Barry is also forced to deal with a phone hooker whom Barry called up one night while he was feeling lonely, but cancelled his credit card before they could charge him.
You may need to sit down to hear this, but... Adam Sandler actually gives a good performance in this movie. No, actually Adam Sandler gives a sensational performance in this movie. I feel like crying when I see Adam Sandler do dramas. Not because he's terrible in them, but because he's amazing in them. He's beyond capable of being a good actor, yet he wastes his time doing rubbish like Grown Ups or Blended, the second of which I never intend on watching. Ever. In my life. Unless, of course, it's a matter of life or death. Adam Sandler doesn't just suit the role of Barry, he is Barry, well I don't have confirmation of the mental illness aspect, but just go along with it. Again. He brings this character to life, and because of how Paul Thomas Anderson-y this film is, he even gets more than a few chances at boasting off his comedic charm, which is always lost in his actual comedies.
The script is full of wit and charm. Punch-Drunk-Love is a very likeable movie. In fact, it may just be one of the most likeable movies I've ever seen. It's just so odd, unique and entertaining, all while maintaining a sense of likability. Aiding this is the little things. The habits of Barry or the humane things he does in his daily life, whether this be purchasing a tonne of pudding to get enough points for a plane ticket or if it's taking in a random piano he finds on the street outside his workplace, just add to how great this film is. Even his violent outbursts have a sense of life.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman's role, although brief, was utterly brilliant. His famous "Shut up! Shut-shut-shut-shut up!" speech a stand out, Hoffman is masterful. He suits the role, much like Sandler does with his, and his character is just as violent, if not more violent than Barry. They've both got a temper and this temper, when confronting each other, just bursts from the screen. There's a conversation the two have towards the end of the film, the contents of which I will not spoil, that has the two just bumping off of each other, attempting not to show awareness of how damn entertaining their scenes are. Somehow, they pull it off, and these scenes turn into some of the best scenes in the film.
This film allows you time to become connected to the characters. Anderson creates a strong emotional connection between the audience and Barry, or even Lena. Right from the first scene, which shows Barry on the phone with a pudding company and it's oh-so-delightful and relatable to watch, I knew that this was a character I could connect to. It was a character I knew I wanted to spend time with, and I did. I did spent time with him and I'd be happy to do it all over again and again and again. It's a film that does that to you. Watching it once is amazing, but it's not enough. You want more and you're probably going to end up getting more.
Paul Thomas Anderson directs this film with magnificence. Seeings as how I'm reviewing his entire filmography in the coming months it makes sense that I should discuss his quality of directing. I won't compare it to any of his other films as I haven't honestly seen too many of them, but in Punch-Drunk-Love it is, like most things in this film are, superb. The shots, the pacing, everything. It's all amazing, making this yet another brilliant film from a brilliant director.
To sum up, Punch-Drunk-Love is led by some sensational performances, surprisingly even Adam Sandler gives a great one. The film is likeable, witty, full of charm, relatable, innocent and magnificently directed. Bring on Inherent Vice!
4 1/2 Stars
To call this film underwhelming would imply that I had expectations for it. I had hopes, but not expectations. Daredevil follows the story of Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck). As a child he was in an accident involving biochemical waste, causing him to loose his sight. It wasn't a major loss though, as his other senses increased, allowing him to live as close to normal a life as possible. This doesn't end up being the case, however. Matt Murdock, as it turns out, secretly lives a double life, a life in which he patrols the city as the masked hero Daredevil, fighting evil and bringing criminals to justice. Things soon change for Matt when he meets Elektra (Jennifer Garner), a skilled warrior who plays as a love interest to the title character.
Daredevil is one of my favourite superheroes, aside from Howard the Duck of course, but it's questionable as to whether or not old Howie counts as a "superhero." As some of you may be aware, I read comic books, admittedly more Marvel than DC, but that's best left unmentioned. Daredevil is up there as one of my all-time favourite superheroes, right alongside the more popular choices of Batman or Iron Man etc. This movie could have been a whole lot better than it was, given the material it's based on. I'm not just saying this from the perspective of someone watching it for the first time during the peak of superhero films, it's just not a good movie. Yes, it does lack in comparison to newer Marvel movies, but it even lacks when compared to the ones that came before this. In fact, when you compare this to Spider-Man, which was released before Daredevil, you'll find a lot more than just a staggering difference in quality. They're practically the same movie.
With all its flaws, Daredevil does have the privilege of getting a decent performance from Ben Affleck. He's not the number one choice for the role, but he undeniably does a brilliant job as both Matt Murdock and Daredevil. He's believable. Although the alterations in some of his character details, particularly the origin, make absolutely no sense, Affleck does his best to bring us into his world and get us believing that this guy can exist. It's ludicrous, but believably so. Except, you know, the fact that going blind allows you to jump hundreds of feet in a single leap.
Speaking of ludicrous, this film can be absolutely ridiculous. Yes, some of it is made believable, but then there's moments such as Bullseye killing an elderly woman on an airplane and the flight attendant, who saw the incident, coming over and saying "aww, she's sleeping!" Bullseye is this film's most ridiculous attribute. He's over the top, obnoxious and completely ignored when he commits the most obvious of crimes. Yep, the plane scene isn't the only one.
I'm going to read to you what it says on the back cover of the DVD for this movie, and this is the exact quote. "Featuring spectacular special effects, sizzling fight sequences and nonstop action, Daredevil is an extraordinary thrill-ride." This, ladies and gentlemen, is quite possibly the most misleading advert you'll read all day. No no, all year. Daredevil lacks in fight sequences, nonstop action, thrills and spectacular special effects. It even lacks in decent special effects. They're horrible, boasting with computerisation.
In both the first fight sequence and the final one, neither of which are remotely enjoyable, there's a bunch of audio distortion. Why is there audio distortion I hear you ask? Not a freaking clue. For god's sake people, Daredevil is blind, not deaf. There's no logical reason for him to be hearing things worse than regular people do, which is what the filmmakers appear to be going for. He's quite the opposite actually. Hey, at least we had Daredevil-vision, which was an underused gem.
And finally, what the hell is the plot of this film? You may have noticed from the brief synopsis I gave way back in the opening paragraph that it's very vague. That's because there's no real plot. There's a love story between Daredevil and Elektra, there's a revenge story thrown in during the final half hour, there's no bad guy that's maintained for the entire film, the characters don't have any emotional investment and there's no real structure of any sorts. F**k you movie.
To sum up, Daredevil lacks in everything coherent and believable, despite efforts by Ben Affleck to make them so. It's over the top, stupid, lacking any thrills, boring and illogical. This film just sucks, despite Affleck's best efforts.